Maker of things. Designer of Experiences. Team Player.

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I designed this page to pack a lot of information into a small area. Each of the photos tells a story about a character. These open in lightbox overlays when the user clicks on them. Since the videos are so powerful, I simply made them as wide as I could inside the template they were going in.

Chris Dean’s heart stopped when he was 2 1/2. He died and came back.

When Chris was 5, his father was killed in a gang shootout, hit more than 20 times by a barrage of bullets.

Chris survived the streets of South Memphis and distinguished himself at Booker T. Washington High School. At 18, in a charming, eloquent address at his high school graduation, Chris introduced the keynote speaker: President Obama. The spotlight from that event won Chris a college scholarship to Lane College.

Chris returned to the streets of South Memphis with filmmaker and Commercial Appeal photographer Alan Spearman, walking on foot for eight weeks to develop a series of observations that became the script of “AS I AM,” the short film below. With Chris as our guide, we float through this extraordinary young man’s landscape and encounter the characters who have helped shape his worldview.

Featured Short Film: AS I AM by Alan Spearman

Featured photos by Alan Spearman, with commentary by Chris Dean

Christopher Dean

Chris Dean: AS I AM (a poem)

Imagine your dreams.

See what you’ve been through. Think about yourself, where you going, where you from.

I used to have nightmares that I would be stuck in a storm drain. People would walk past me for days and leave me down there.

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Chris Peck @ the Commercial Appeal

Chris Peck: What Obama didn't see


Chris Dean had his 15 minutes of fame. Remember?

In May 2011 the 18-year-old senior from Booker T. Washington High School introduced President Barack Obama to a cheering crowd during the school's graduation ceremonies.

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Faith should be too young to be traumatized. The smile on her face hides the pain of the past and the fear of bullets flying past her mother's apartment in the Soulsville neighborhood of Memphis. But she has a refuge. A magnolia tree that Faith has named April gives her comfort. She enters April through a hole in the trunk and waters her and checks her heartbeat. Nearby are echoes of a much older version of Faith. Hattie Mae looks back and dreams of youth. She places handwritten messages on a giant battered tree stump in her front yard telling those who pass to live now.

Short Film: APRIL by Alan Spearman

The short film “APRIL” won MemFeast III, sponsored by Crosstown Arts and the filmmakers were awarded a $5,000 grant to continue working in South Memphis. With the momentum from their MemFeast win, Alan Spearman and Mark Adams collaborated on the creation of “AS I AM” with the support of The Commercial Appeal and the assistance of Chris Dean. Both short films will screen at the Indie Memphis Film Festival at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Playhouse on the Square. Special guests will be present, and a Q & A will follow.

Photography + Video Alan Spearman  |  Page Design + Build by Ian Lemmonds  |  September, 2012